Crab bisque à la robot.
A few weeks before Christmas, I flew across the Atlantic into our culinary future, where a robot would cook me a bowl of fancy soup.
Like most of us, I’ve eaten food prepared by a robot before. On my flight from New York to London, for example, the meal I was served — a microwaved chicken sponge in salt-lick tomato sauce, accompanied by uniformly cylindrical green and yellow wax beans — was certainly made by machines. Same goes for the Diet Coke I drank, and the prepackaged granola bar I ate instead of the chicken.
But this robot, whose name is Moley, was promising something more than fast, cheap industrial food: a high-quality meal made from scratch and cooked at home — enticing, especially if, like me, you’ve always found cooking akin to a riddle you can’t solve. (My home-cooked seafood specialty is canned sardines on toast with cream cheese. It’s better than it sounds.)
Moley is the invention of a U.K.-based company called Moley Robotics. Sadly, he’s not a robot whirling about the pantry so much as a “robotic kitchen” — two sleek, humanoid arms that hang above an otherwise conventional stovetop, a sort of personal chef for the inept or harried home cook, capable of preparing all but the most complicated recipes. In theory, anyway. Right now, the robot makes bisque, and only bisque. Expensive, creamy crab bisque. A dish selected because it’s relatively difficult for home cooks, impressive and flavorful when shared by the spoonful at demos, and comfortably within the range of the robot’s ability. Moley Robotics hopes to bring its product to the consumer market by 2018. By then, it will make other dishes, presumably.
This is how Moley works: A chef cooks a recipe while being filmed with motion-capture cameras. That chef’s movements are then uploaded to Moley’s computer, which commands the robot to mimic them. The recipes are made available for download; the ingredients available for delivery; the tireless, never-complaining robot available to retrace the human chef’s steps at its hungry owner’s whim. Instead of sardines and cream cheese, crab bisque....MUCH MORE
HT: AEIdeas Links and Quotes, Jan. 13...I’d eaten bisque only twice before. The first was lobster, bought from Whole Foods in advance of my visit with Moley. The store’s luridly pink, punishingly rich bisque called to mind a postcoital squid excretion. And so, after landing in London, I decided that to properly judge Moley’s one dish, I needed to be able to compare it to first-class bisque.An embittered gourmand I used to know had told me about a restaurant in the city called Wiltons. Located in the formerly aristocratic, now merely very expensive, neighborhood of St. James’s, it has been in business serving classic English (and, bah, some French) cuisine for 274 years. I checked to ensure that it served bisque — it did — and made a dinner reservation....